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Bon Operatit!

  • SqueezeBox Theatre 1519 Oak Street Kansas City, MO, 64108 United States (map)

This exciting and fun event will consist of three parts including composer Lee Hoiby’s Bon Appétit based on Julia Child, a cooking demonstration by a local KC chef, and Jennifer Jolley’s Krispy Kremes and Butter Queens inspired by the colorful Paula Deen. 

Squeezebox Theatre
1519 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64108

*SOLD OUT* Friday, April 27th - 7:30pm *SOLD OUT*

*SOLD OUT* Saturday, April 28th - 7:30pm *SOLD OUT*

Sunday, April 29th - 2:00pm

THE DETAILED LOW DOWN ON BON OPERATIT                                                                 

Bon Operatit will consist of three parts including composer Lee Hoiby’s Bon Appétit based on Julia Child, a cooking demonstration by a local KC chef, and Jennifer Jolley’s Krispy Kremes and Butter Queens inspired by the colorful Paula Deen. The production will be sung in English. Julia Child is credited as writing the charming text for Bon Appétit as it was adapted directly from two episodes of her WGBH-TV show The French Chef.  Jennifer Jolley captures Paula Deen’s zany antics in the wild Krispy Kremes and Butter Queens.   

Kansas City director Fenlon Lamb will deliver her talents as stage director for this company debut production.  Kelly Birch will join the production in the role of the charming Julia Child in Bon Appétit.  Elizabeth Birger will join in the role of the ever surprising Paula Deen in Krispy Kremes and Butter Queens.  Michael Austin and Ashley Wheat will join in the roles of Angels trying to save Paula Deen from her wicked butter decisions.  

Nate Wheatley, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Opera180, stated, “We are quite excited to premiere Bon Operatit as the debut production for Opera 180.  We designed this programming for intimate audiences and I think our guests will be blown away by the intimate and interactive way this production will be presented. What could be more fun that seeing and opera and getting fun food while you watch? This production goes to the heart of our vision for a new way to present opera in Kansas City. I think people will enjoy the mix of food paired with short operas that promise fun.  

About the Artists                                                                                                             

Originally from Los Angeles, mezzo soprano Kelly Birch now resides in Kansas City, having recently completed her Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. An active operatic and concert performer, Dr. Birch has sung regularly with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City since 2015 and with Musica Sacra since 2016. She performed Gustav Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony under the baton of Kyle Pickett and the Topeka Symphony Orchestra in April 2016; that summer made her European debut in the role of Suzuki in Puccini's Madama Butterfly with the Varna International Opera Academy in Bulgaria. She will be going back to Varna in May 2018 to perform the title role in Maurice Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges and Mrs. Jones in Kurt Weill’s Street Scene. Last year she traveled to San Diego to perform the role of Delfa in Cavalli's Giasone with Opera NEO and will be returning in July 2018 to perform the role of Rosmira in Handel's Partenope. During her time at UMKC, she performed the lead roles of Bertarido in Handel's Rodelinda, Zita in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, and La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica, and sang as a soloist with the UMKC Wind Ensemble, UMKC Choirs, and as a winner of the 2017 Concert & Aria Competition.

Elizabeth Birger is a soprano based out of Kansas City. As an active performer, Elizabeth has performed both regionally and internationally in operas, recitals, oratorios, and Broadway reviews. Along with her full performance schedule, Elizabeth maintains a full teaching schedule at several local institutions, and a private voice studio. She has earned performance and education degrees from Wichita State University and Florida State University. Elizabeth earned her doctorate in vocal performance and vocal pedagogy from the University of Mississippi.

“Pitch-perfect and resonant,” soprano [Kansas City Metropolis], Ashley Yvonne Wheat, from Bellevue, Washington, is a graduate of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music and the University of Missouri – Kansas City. A crossover artist based out of Lenexa, Kansas, Wheat recently completed a joint apprenticeship with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and UMKC. Wheat’s professional credits include: Asheville Lyric Opera, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, Winter Opera St. Louis, Southern Illinois Music Festival, Heartland Opera Theater, Musical Theater Heritage, Chestnut Fine Arts Center, Aspen Music Festival, Kansas City Repertory Theater, Sammamish Symphony, and most recently, the Kansas City Symphony. Whether on the operatic or musical theater stage, bringing a puppet to life with StoneLion Puppet Theater, teaching the next generation how to take the stage, or filming in front of the camera, Wheat has truly shaped a career capitalizing on the full breadth of her artistic talents.

Michael Austin, baritone, hails from Lawrence, KS where he studied at the University of Kansas under the tutelage of Dr. Julia Broxholm and Dr. John Stephens, obtaining his B.M. – Vocal Performance and M.M. – Opera Performance.  While studying at KU, Mr. Austin was featured in a number of roles, including Schaunard in KU’s production of La Boheme, as well as Marcello and Fredrik in Opera in the Ozark’s productions of La Boheme and A Little Night Music. While studying at KU, Mr. Austin was a regular member of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City’s chorus, where he performed in many operas including John Brown, La Traviata, Rigoletto, Norma, Turandot, Barber of Seville, and I Capuleti e i Montecchi, among others. Mr. Austin currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas where he serves as the Graduate Coordinator for KU’s School of Music.

Opera News called Fenlon Lamb “moving and convincing” and Seen and Heard International praised her “well-honed theatrical sensibility.” Ms. Lamb brings these qualities of experience and perspective as an outstanding singing actress to her work as a stage director. Fenlon returned for her fifth season with Palm Beach Opera to direct Tosca. Previous seasons have included a “delightful” Don Pasquale an “opulent” La Bohème, and a “madcap” Il barbiere di Siviglia along with several critically acclaimed Young Artist productions. Last season, Fenlon directed the world premiere production of Riders of the Purple Sage for Arizona Opera. She made her directorial debut of Carmen with Dayton Opera and directed a new production of Tosca for Finger Lakes Opera. Fenlon also conceived and directed a unique operatic installation of Elvis Costello’s The Juliet Letters for Lyric Opera of Kansas City with set designer Jeff Ridenour. Recently, Ms. Lamb made her company debut at Opera Santa Barbara with a “superb” Suor Angelica/Gianni Schicchi. Other productions at opera houses across the U.S. have included Don Pasquale at the Crested Butte Music Festival, The Pearl Fishers with Dayton Opera, Die fliegende Holländer for Opera Carolina, Werther with Mobile Opera, and both Rigoletto and Lucia di Lammermoor at Arizona Opera. Fenlon is the Director of Opera and Vocal Programming for the Bar Harbor Music Festival where she has directed Carmen, L’elisir d’amore, Madama Butterfly, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Le nozze di Figaro, La Bohème, La Cenerentola, and Don Giovanni. She is currently in her third season as Director of Opera at UMKC Conservatory of Music where productions have included Cendrillon, Little Women, Die Zauberflöte, The Turn of the Screw, Suor Angelica/Gianni Schicchi, Hänsel und Gretel, a double-bill of La voix humaine and L’enfant et les Sortilèges. Fenlon is the co-creator and Artistic Director of Papermoon Opera Productions launching this summer with Hänsel und Gretel at the Bar Harbor Music Festival. This summer she also directs a new production of Carmen with Mill City Summer Opera.


Julia Child: Kelly Birch

Paula Deen: Elizabeth Birger

TV Announcer/Angel: Michael Austin

Kitchen Assistant/Angel: Ashley Wheat


Stage Director: Fenlon Lamb

Earlier Event: February 24
Premiere Party - Private
Later Event: January 14
Ein Prosit!